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This chapter describes shortly how to use gmax, 3ds Max and Blender when working with 3D models. These third party applications allow creating 3D objects that can be used in the Warper or in Pandoras Box. If you are using a different 3D program please have a look at the end of this topic.
Objects for Pandoras Box Servers and Players are stored as .x-file format. This format is a DirectX file format that can be exported with most 3D applications such as 3ds Max, Maya and Cinema4D among many others. A separate export plugin might be required for your specific application in order to export to .x directly.
The Warper is not only restricted to x files, but accepts 3ds files and others as well. (read more...)
This topic focuses on three programs. It is only a brief introduction into 3D modeling, more documentation and tutorials might be found using various internet sources.
The 3D web resource page for 3D models www.turbosquid.com offers a light version of 3ds Max for personal use that is called gmax. gmax unlike 3ds Max will allow you to learn the most basic modeling and texturing concepts of 3D objects and exporting to .x files with a 3rd party exporter.
The last program mentioned in this topic is the free and open-source 3D application Blender.
The chapter covering the Warper might be of interest as well.
The chapter covering the Warper includes common 3D modeling term definitions that are quite useful. For example it includes explanations of the coordinate system used in Pandoras Box and the Warper as well as what units they are based on. UV Mapping is described too. This is a brief summary, as well of interest for those who use other programs than the ones described here:
First of all, Pandoras Box' 3D space is based on a left-handed system. The units used are generic units defining that a screen's width is always 16 generic units. The camera's default position is (X,Y,Z) = (0,0,-25). The FOV is set to 35,489 degree (or 56,251 mm). If a planar object is positioned at (0,0,0) and is 16 generic units wide, it fills exactly the fullscreen size. The height is calculated by the display's aspect ratio. For example, if working with an output set to 1920x1080px, the planar object should have a size of 16x9 units, if working with an output set to 1024x768px, the planar object should have a size of 16x12 units.
When exporting objects, make sure a UVW mapping is applied.
For gmax, coolux has created Native Files that consist of different planes (for different aspect ratios) and a camera. Again, If you would export the planar object as it is to an .x File and load it into Pandoras Box, the shape of a layer would not change, since this plane is a reference file to match the fullscreen scaling of a layer object. The camera helps us with a fixed view to see the boundaries of our output and allows us to create shapes that cross the boundaries.
When you use the files for warping, please make sure to always work within the camera view when shaping the grid. You may use the front view to work outside of the screen boundaries, but the camera view is a static reference for Pandoras Box.
If you have already started with your object in gmax and want to know how it would in Pandoras Box with the default settings applied, simply adjust the gmax camera in the above described way.
If using 3ds Max or Blender you can easily create this setup yourself.